Yesterday on MSNBC, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was back to defend President Bush’s legacy. One of the flack’s favorite subjects is the Iraq war. Last month, he went on CNN and said that Saddam Hussein — not the Bush administration — was actually “the big liar.” Yesterday he dragged out a long-recycled talking point: Saddam was behind 9/11. He also claimed that President Obama owes Bush a big “thank you”:
FLEISCHER: It was in part because of Iraq and large part because of the economy that Barack Obama won. Having said that, I also think Barack Obama should say thank you every day that he inherited a world without Saddam Hussein in it. The one thing people are going to remember the most is that he kept us safe. [...]
But after September 11th, having been being hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam Hussein might not strike again? We got a report saying al Qaeda is determined to attack the United States. Well, that’s not a surprise. Of course, they are. It doesn’t say where, it doesn’t say when, it doesn’t say how. So, if you get a report like that, what do you do?
In the past year, Bush administration officials have continued to defend this lie. As recently as December, Bush said that he stood behind his decision to push this discredited connection in order to go to war, even if the facts were wrong. Condoleezza Rice argued in July, “In the post 9/11 environment, you couldn’t let a threat to international peace and stability like that [Saddam] Hussein] remain.” Vice President Cheney is refusing to even admit that they were ever wrong, saying in March 2008, “Now, was that a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda? Seems to me pretty clear that there was.”
Over at the Wonk Room, Matt Duss looks at “the massive success of George W. Bush’s presidency” in Fleischer’s world, writing, “So Bush deserves no blame for the attack that occurred in the first year of his presidency, but he deserves full credit for the fact that no more attacks occurred for the rest of his presidency. I find this argument to be an insult to snake oil.”
(HT: Wayne Schneider and TP Zoo)